Twelve Red Deer College film students were too busy to be star-struck during a recent trip to the Toronto International Film Festival.
Second-year student Amanda Trimble was soaking up the bustling TIFF atmosphere while trying to learn more about how people get their films into major festivals. “I got to talk to indie filmmakers,” said the 21-year-old — and suddenly the idea of submitting one of her own movies seemed like an achievable goal.
“We came back with a real creative vibe . . . I’d say it was definitely worth it to be at the Toronto film festival. . . .
“If I were able to, I’d also go to the Vancouver film festival, Sundance and other festivals to see what they’re like,” added Trimble, who already had a head start on the experience.
Her four-minute short, Dear 604, was one of the RDC student films screened at this year’s Edmonton film festival.
The RDC Motion Picture Arts program arranged a first student trip to Toronto from Sept. 12 to 16 to give the young filmmakers a first-hand look at how North America’s biggest film festival operates. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” said instructor James Wilson, who’s been working for a couple of years on getting discounts to make the experience more affordable.
The trip ended up costing each student $2,000 for film festival screenings, flights and accommodations.
“Some of us saw 12 films over four days,” said Wilson — either smaller-distribution ones that would be difficult to see in Alberta or larger films that won’t be screened for the general public for several more months.
Other students planned their own itineraries, including seeing some theatrical productions and sightseeing.
“Different kids went there for different reasons. Some of them are interested in acting, in directing, producing or cinematography,” said Wilson, who watched as a couple of RDC students spent 40 minutes conversing with TIFF actors. “They wanted to know, ‘How did you do it? And what was it like?’ ”
He was later told RDC actors learned “the same things you taught us but it was good validation” to hear it from others.
There were some celebrity sightings — Wilson was a person away from being able to touch Terence Stamp, who has become known for “grumpy old man” roles, as well as portraying Jor-El in Smallville. Stamp was starring in a TIFF screened movie, Song for Marion.
The RDC students also attended a red-carpet screening for a Bollywood film called English Vinglish, about an insecure Indian housewife who enrols in an English class. Wilson was amazed at the fan turnout, and later learned that Toronto has the largest population of East Indian people in Canada.
“You see what impact films like that have. It was crazy,” he said. Despite the frenzy outside the theatre, actors from the Bollywood film were gracious enough to pose for photographs with the RDC students.
One of the aims of going to TIFF was to make the young filmmakers realize that no festival is too big or scary, said Wilson. “I hope it gives them confidence, and that someday we’ll be seeing RDC grads premiering their films at TIFF.”
He hopes to make student visits to the Toronto film festival a regular event.